Onus on Government to reduce the cost of living - ISME

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (ISME ) has raised concerns regarding the number of long-term unemployed in the country and has called on the Government to tackle the cost of living to offset “unjustified pay demands”.

The association made the call in the wake of the release of the monthly Live Register figures for September on October 6.

While acknowledging the reduction of 46,311 on the Live Register in the year to September, the Association highlighted the 130,772 long-term unemployed which now stands at 46 per cent of all claimants.

Commenting on the figures, ISME CEO, Neil McDonnell, said: “It is regrettable that at a time when we still have a significant amount of people in long-term unemployment, public sector wage expectations are excessive and far beyond the 1.5 to 2.5 per cent increases being negotiated in the private sector. Unions are using the ‘cost of living card’ to justify unrealistic wage demands.

“The emphasis for this Government must be on getting the 286,490 people on the dole back to work. This can be achieved by reducing State-controlled costs. Government needs to build more houses to offset any excessive increases in rents, reduce the excise duties on certain goods, and reduce the high VAT rate from 23 per cent to 21 per cent on all goods to boost the domestic economy.”

In the upcoming Budget, the association has called on Government to: reduce government-influenced business costs to below the EU average; target capital investment in job-rich infrastructure; tackle the high cost of living; encourage entrepreneurs through the tax system; ensure real measurable access to credit for viable SMEs; outsource more State-sector services to SMEs; reform the social welfare system to make it more profitable to work; and reduce black economy activity.

“Instead of unjustified pay hikes in the public sector, Government can put more money back in people’s pockets by reducing State-influenced costs”, Mr McDonnell concluded.

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